By Abdulwahab Abdulah
Against the backdrop of criticisms trailing the judgment of the Federal High court which sentenced some Boko Haram members to prison terms, Lagos State government yesterday explained that the convicts were yet to carry out an act of terrorism.
At a briefing by the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, he set the record straight and stated non of them was guilty of murder or terrorism.
According to the Attorney General, 17 suspects were initially arraigned before Justice Ibrahim Buba as at March, 2013, but by November of same year, they had been reduced to four suspects because no concrete evidence to prosecute them.
It could be recalled that through out the trial the court carried out its proceedings under camera.
Ipaye who said he obtained a fiat from his federal AG for the prosecution said he had to file a “nolle prosecui” in favour of those released by the court.
Again Ipaye noted, 13 suspects had to be released because further investigation carried out on them revealed that there was no sufficient evidence to continue to hold them.
He listed the four suspects that went through trial and eventually convicted before Justice Ibrahim Buba toi include Ali Mohammed, Adamu Karumi, Ibrahim Usman and Bala Haruna.
They had been charged on a six count charge bordering on conspiracy, acts of terrorism, concealing information and possession of firearms and ammunitions under the terrorism Act, 2013.
Ipaye explained that the law under which they were charged actually prescribed maximum penalty of death sentence.
“For this, the trial judge would have to consider whether the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were detonated, whether it caused grievous bodily harm or death of individuals among other consideration before coming down heavily with the law”.
The Attorney General who listed the different stages of terrorist acts which determine sentences said they convicted persons were caught at stage three, where they were still making preparations and that at this stage, they cannot be charged, even for attempting to commit terrorist act.
“Investigation even revealed that they were caught with the IEDs in their rooms at Ijora Oloye, fully primed and ready to be deployed”, he explained.
Ipaye said each of the convicts would spend a total of 25 years in prison.
According to him, they would first spend 20 years on charges bothering on terrorism, which would run concurrently, and therefter commence another term of five years for being in possession of firearms and ammunitions.
Ipaye said the fourth suspect, Bala Haruna was not charged for the same offence with the other three suspects as he was only called in to provide money to bail one of the convicted persons.
He said the court discharged and acquitted Haruna because there were doubts on the evidences against him and which were not sufficient enough to convict him.